Friday afternoon:  Just like that, Paul Vallas is gone

Even his supporters, education reporter Jacqueline Rabe Thomas wrote, concede that the nationally known Vallas -– who has been acting leader of the Bridgeport school system for two years — has been “a polarizing figure“ in Connecticut.

Friday afternoon, Part 2:  In another quick move (that actually took 5 years), federal rules were issued that require health insurers to treat mental illness the same way they do other ailments. Congress passed a law mandating parity in 2008, but, as Washington reporter Ana Radelat explained, the measure may have been approved, but “it was up to federal agencies to establish a rule for that law — and that has taken five years.”

This weekThe Nation’s Report Card came out, but there was no quick movement in evidence here. Connecticut has struggled for years to narrow its achievement gap between lower-income minority students and their peers. And although fourth graders’ reading scores have inched up in the past two years, “There were not significant changes. Our gap remains very large,” said Jonathan Plucker, a professor at the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education…Connecticut did not make progress, but then again, few states did.” (Check out the interactive graphic –- by our new data editor Alvin Chang — that breaks down the components of the achievement gap nationally and in Connecticut.)

Other stories of note this week.

Local Elections: Capitol Bureau Chief Mark Pazniokas noted the “firsts and upsets” around the state on Tuesday, and Chang presented the statewide results in an interactive map.

And (note to John Boehner), knowing that the Senate was to vote on a bill banning discrimination in the workplace based on sexual identity, Pazniokas started reading up on Connecticut’s law that did the same thing, only 22 years earlier. When he read that House Speaker Boehner, an Ohio Republican, opposed the Senate’s bill because, the speaker said, it could lead to frivolous lawsuits, Pazniokas called the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities to see just how many lawsuits have been filed here. He wrote, “In Connecticut, the numbers have roughly matched the expectations of legislative analysts, who predicted that sexual orientation complaints would not exceed 2 percent of the total CHRO caseload. That is about the same number of discrimination cases based on a complainant’s religion.”

And, reporter Keith Phaneuf, an avid state budget watcher, wrote Friday of two reports indicating that a very dicey financial situation awaits the winner of next year’s gubernatorial election.

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